May 28 2014 10:01AM
Philip Larsen was one of a group of players filed under “maybe” for the Edmonton Oilers this summer. The slight defender (who played what might have been his best hockey in a late-season stint at right wing) will not be back for next season, having opted to sign a one-year KHL deal instead.
What it means for Larsen
This was a logical move for Larsen, who had some moments at the NHL level but was without question one of the problems on the Oilers blue line in 2013-14. It was questionable whether Edmonton would choose to qualify him; they would have needed to give him a seven-figure offer and that's a lot of money for a 'tweener.
Larsen's skill-set should be a fit for the KHL, where teams play a more passive game. There, his strengths (passing, skating the puck) should stand out while his major weaknesses (particularly in front of his own net) should be tested less.
It's interesting that this is only a one-year contract, because Larsen seems like a guy born to play overseas and he spent four long seasons trying to make the NHL without ever really establishing himself.
What it means for Edmonton
Honestly, not much.
Larsen's skills were not a great fit on a blue line that already possessed his strengths to some degree and that certainly had his weaknesses. He might have slotted in as the No. 7 or No. 8 defender, but there are numerous options in free agency who are better fits in Edmonton.
This does help frame the Shawn Horcoff trade to Dallas. Larsen's departure means that all that remains now is a 2016 seventh-round draft pick. Dallas took on Horcoff's salary and got a disappointing campaign but great playoffs (six points in six games, plus-five) in exchange.
This may also impact Taylor Fedun's thinking on a return to Edmonton. Fedun and Larsen were competing for similar minutes, and while Larsen (inexplicably) won them this year he's now out of the way.